Firstly, I would like to point out that I am firmly against movie piracy and had no intention of planning a DVD copying scam, (I wouldn't know where to start in the first place) but required a re-writable DVD drive to burn home movies created with an HD camera given to me by my parents. Whilst many computers and laptops have such a drive, mine, unfortunately, does not. What I needed was something that did exactly what it says on the tin and just burn discs, so I was not overly bothered about;
i) The looks of the drive (functionality is key here)
ii) The physical size of the drive (it was going to be used at home only)
iii) How much noise the drive makes during the burning process (there is a volume control on the TV); or
iv) The writing speed of the drive (I can be very patient when I need to be)
My wish list of features was minimal in that the drive needed to be reliable, have the light scribe function and be cheap.
Being a bit of a novice when it comes to computer peripherals I sought the advice of a friend (who has just finished building his bespoke desktop from scratch), computer forums and the 'usual' review sites, and the same product kept coming up, so step up the LG GSA-E60L.
I primarily looked at this drive because of the low price. Whilst there were cheaper drives out there, I had never heard of such brands so I was quite skeptical. The drives could have been made in the same factory as the top brands and given an unknown label (I know many things are manufactured in this way), hence I could have got a bit of a bargain. Alternatively, the products could have been absolute rubbish. It was a risk and was one that I was not prepared to take (I have been stung before which led to me having to buy a half decent one - totally false economy I should have done that in the first place) so I decided to go for a lower end model from a brand I had heard of.
****In the box****
Included in the box is;
i) The burning drive
ii) An external power pack (this drive cannot be run on batteries or via USB port utilizing the power from your PC or laptop)
iii) A quick start guide/instruction manual
iv) A disc containing burning software "for all your burning needs"
Everything to get started is included in the price, which is good, since there is nothing worse than getting a new toy and then finding you need to buy some additional software to get it working. The software may not be the best quality, but given the low price of the package this is to be expected. That said, the software provided is more than adequate to perform the basic functions.
The LG is black and understated, however it is not modern looking or sleek in any way. It is one of the larger, bulkier and uglier external drives I have seen, but all things considered this is forgivable, however if you are one of those people that put looks over functionality and practicality then this external drive is definitely not for you. When dealing with computer peripherals I always go for functionality and value for money over looks every time so I am not overly bothered about the appearance of the LG.
Being on the larger side could lead to storage problems, as it is not something that can be tucked away in a small hiding place. Similarly, it is not very mobile but then does anyone actually take an external disc burner around with them?
****Using the hard drive****
This drive connects to your PC or laptop via a USB 2 port. An external power supply is needed, not surprising as I can imagine it would deplete the battery life of your laptop somewhat and given the time it takes to complete the coding/analyzing, burning and buffering process, as well as etching a label on to the disc the battery may well have given up the ghost.
From the first use I was well impressed. After connecting the cable to the USB port of my laptop, plugging in the power supply and pressing the switch the drive came to life and was instantly recognized by my computer. I should note that the drive doesn't have a separate on-off switch. Despite reading one or two reviews about computers not instantly recognizing the drive I can honestly say I have never had such problems and I have used this drive with both Windows XP and Vista.
In order to use the drive you need a burning program. The drive comes complete with a disc containing the free version of Nero 9 (which doesn't have that many features but it is more than adequate to burn a disc and etch a label on the disc) and the relevant light scribe program to get that feature up and running.
Once the software is loaded up it is simply a case of importing the relevant movie in to Nero, setting the burning options (I find that default settings give a perfectly adequate copy and there really is no need to play around with the settings and I would advise against it unless you know what you are doing that is) putting the disc in the drive and hitting the burn button.
This drive has two specific features that I think are absolutely fantastic. The first fantastic feature is the light scribe facility. For those of you that are unaware a light scribe facility enables you to print an iridescent label directly on the face of the disc meaning no more sticky labels (that tend to peel off) or scribbling with a marker pen. What's more, with light scribe you are not limited to just text as it is possible to etch an image (either a picture taken from the internet or one of your own digital photographs) straight on to the disc creating a professional looking label every time.
If you are really anal you can edit photos and text, or create your own images in some "artistic" package, such as paint, and etch these to the disc. The opportunities are endless, but it should be noted the final quality of the etched label will depend upon the level of detail of the image and the amount of colours. The label will be monochrome so images with a small number of bold colours will work best. It should be noted that to use the light scribe function specific light scribe discs are required.
The second fantastic feature is that this drive has dual layer support. This means you can use dual layer discs, i.e. those that can store up to 4.7 GB of data each side. That is a massive 9.4 GB of data, which is huge. It should be noted that to carry out this function you need special dual layer discs.
According to the box this drive will burn at 20x, which is fast although the 'true' burning time will depend upon the discs you use in the drive. I generally use 16x discs (they are relatively cheap and the burn time is not really that long) and find these more than adequate. To ensure you get a 'deep' burn you can slow the speed down to 8x via the Nero software.
There are quicker burning drives on the market, but these are not needed in my opinion, unless you are mass-producing movies.
****Price and availability****
The price of this drive varies so I would recommend shopping around. Initially I was looking at Ebuyer where the price was £39.99 plus delivery. Because of Ebuyer's extortionate delivery charges (£9.99 for Saturday or next day delivery decreasing down to £4.79 for a "super Saver" that takes at least 5 days) I decided to shop around. The product was available from PC World for the same price but my local store didn't have any of the light scribe versions in stock, which actually turned out to be favourable for me since I managed to get the drive for £35 online with free delivery and it only took three days to arrive, which was an absolute bonus.
I should point out that this burner will burn CDRs and DVD+Rs and DVD-Rs, so if you are requiring an external disc burner then I cannot recommend the LG highly enough. I appreciate it is not the smallest drive on the market, nor it is the quietest or even the quickest but it does exactly what it says on the tin, i.e. burn DVDs, and it does it very well. Being cheap and robust the LG is fantastic value for money, especially since it is better quality than many other hard drives that are at least double the price of this.
The dual layer and light scribe features make this drive such a fantastic purchase since these are two features that are often found on burning drives that are much more expensive.
(This review has been posted on other sites under the name of Yackers1)
I bought The LG GSA-E60L external DVD rewriter for three main reasons.
Firstly, to add an extra drive to my PC. It is always handy to have an extra drive in my opinion.
Secondly. It has "Dual Layer" support meaning that it will allow you to add files and burn films etc. onto dual layer discs. (please read my review on the Verbatim Dual Layer DVD) for further information on this.
And thirdly, it is a Lightscribe drive meaning that you can add files etc. to a disc as normal, then flip the DVD or CD upside down and replace it in the drive and a laser will etch text or pictures or whatever design you desire, straight onto the surface of the disc for a great, professional finish. Far better and more convenient than using a felt pen! A note here: you must purchase specially designed Lightscribe DVD or CD in order to use the Lightscribe function.
So, really, you are going to get three really useful products in the one package.
The drive is external so obviously you have to connect it to the Pc via a USB port and also to the mains, which is how it is powered.
Setting it up was a breeze and as soon as I plugged it in to the USB port, windows (Vista) found it and installed the relevant drivers for it. After that it was away to go!
It supports windows Vista. 2000 Pro and XP.
It is bundled with Nero software (Nero Express and InCD) and SecurDisc feature which is explained as thus:
- SecurDisc protects user data against unauthorised access through password protection and password authentication. A digital signature is applied to all data to allow recipients to verify data authenticity. Further, checksums are stored on the disc to verify data integrity and readability and users do not need to worry about dependability with maximum data reliability through redundancy storage and defect data management system.
The LG GSA comes in a sexy and sleek black glossy finish with silver trimming around the edges which give it a great feeling of quality.
I have had this product for over a year now and have had no problems with it whatsoever.
For anyone looking for an extra drive, or for its Dual Layer capabilities, or who are interested in the Lightscribe options this drive can offer then I strongly recommend this little black beauty!